Manufacturers today are looking for new ways to improve efficiency, speed, and quality while reducing costs. However, relying on manual approaches and disparate systems isn’t getting it done today. Manufacturing software is the driving force that allows manufacturers to keep pace with fast-moving customer demands, competitors, and markets.
Manufacturers need to look at their plant operations like a professional racecar driver and pit team look at their engines, fuel and performance, and race strategy for their biggest races. In many ways, a plant floor is like a race pit, where time is of the essence, and trimming wasted steps can mean the difference between meeting delivery dates and winning a customer for life or not.
Plant Floors Need To Be Fine Tuned Like A High-Performance Racecar
Driver and mechanic teams combine their years of experience, insights, and the latest technologies to get every performance edge possible – even if it’s a fraction of a second. That’s the same intensity manufacturers need to bring to improve plant floor productivity if they’re going to win the race of providing excellent quality products at or before customer delivery dates at the most competitive cost.
Every manufacturer’s race is just as complex as a high-performance racecar, engine, and supporting pit crew. Therefore, manufacturers must keep IT, manufacturing operations, plant scheduling, accounting, and finance teams in constant, real-time communication. Just as racing crews need real-time data to anticipate each other’s needs to serve each other with parts, tire replacements, and engine part swap-outs, the same is true for every manufacturing team. Manufacturing software provides real-time production and process monitoring data to ensure visibility and control, keeping engineering, marketing, and production teams coordinated to deliver quality products out the door on time.
How Manufacturing Software Helps to Fine-Tune Plant Floor Productivity
Today’s highest performance racecars are designed to provide a continual stream of real-time performance, brake and tire wear, temperature, and usage data analyzed in real-time. The best manufacturer software includes real-time production and process monitoring to help manufacturing teams achieve the same goals. They’re looking for where scrap, waste, anomalies in production machinery, and process performance are slowing plant floor productivity down. Like the best pit crews at any major international race, the best manufacturers immediately know what to do to keep plant floor productivity running at their highest performance levels possible. Manufacturing and high-performance racing are alike because the better a team can communicate, capture and act on data to know the condition of plant floor machinery, the more successful they will be.
Steps manufacturers can take today to drive greater plant floor productivity and fine-tune their teams for higher performance include the following:
- Finance, Accounting, ERP, MES, and supply chain need to be on a single database. Activity on the production floor needs to be translated into financial results, making integrated financial reporting the most important feature in a manufacturing ERP system. Tracking how changes in production planning, scheduling, and the continual improvements in workflows translate into cost savings and additional revenue is a must-have. Plant floor productivity improves when there’s visibility and control across the plant floor.
- Real-time production and process monitoring data is the fuel that keeps an ERP and Quality Management system running. It’s also the data that enables manufacturers to keep production schedules on track. In addition, real-time production and process monitoring are essential for gaining a 360-degree view of the shop floor, controlling cost variances and regulated industries, and compliance with government regulations.
- A proven Manufacturing Execution System (MES) integrated with ERP. Many manufacturing ERP systems will either have the workflows that provide Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) support or have entirely different applications or modules for this area. MES manages the daily scheduling on the production floor, taking into account MPS workflows and Bill of Materials requirements, factoring in the skill sets of machine operators. Best-in-class MES can take all these factors into account and drastically reduce the time required to produce a given product.
- Supply Chain Management that can flex in response to production needs. Suppliers and the supply chains they comprise are the most important relationships to any manufacturer. Supply Chain Management systems need to support demand planning, logistics and transportation management, procurement and sourcing, quality management, supply chain planning, and execution of drop shipments.
- Real-Time Planning and Scheduling. ERP and MES systems deliver the most value when they provide real-time visibility and control down to the cost level. Choosing a specific deployment option needs to factor in the business case first, focusing on the value of real-time production and processing data in improving cost, quality, and production levels consistently.
Improving manufacturing plant performance and fine-tuning a high-performance engine and racecar before and during and post-race have a lot in common. Both rely on real-time production and process monitoring data to course correct, from the car’s dashboard showing speed, RPMs, oil and tire pressure, and how the coolant, electrical, and suspension systems are working. All that data gets uploaded to the pit bosses in real-time, and they know exactly what to do every time the car comes in for refueling. Equivalent real-time reporting on the shop floor includes interactive, adaptive real-time production scheduling, yield rates, Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), and metrics specific to a given manufacturer’s unique production processes.
A well-run production line can reach that same efficiency, speed, and performance. So it’s time to look at plant performance like a professional racecar driver looks at how they can get the highest performance from their car, engine, and team to win.